Gardening is a passion for people of all ages. Working in the garden is good for both mental and physical health. For older adults, gardening has also been shown to help relieve the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis.
As we grow older, however, safety issues often arise. Problems with strength, flexibility, and mobility can make this favorite pastime riskier for older adults. A fear of falling often sidelines older gardeners long before they are ready to give up on their favorite hobby.
The good news is there are garden tools designed to help senior gardeners stay safe while working in the yard.
Tools to Support the Senior Gardener
With spring and summer on the horizon, here are a few tools you can share with the older gardeners in your life:
Garden Kneeler/Seat: This is a must-have for senior gardeners. It combines a cushioned kneeler with strong arm supports. That helps make gardening easier for older adults who have arthritis in their knees and wrists. Turn it over and it becomes a seat to rest on when taking a break from digging. Another useful feature are the tool pouches located on each side of the kneeler. No more trips back and forth from the potting shed to retrieve tools.
Stand-up Weed Remover Tool: Pulling weeds is one of gardening’s never-ending jobs. For seniors, it can also be a risky one. Bending over to tug on weeds can create a fall risk for adults who have balance problems. Repeatedly kneeling and rising presents the same risks. Having a tool like the Yard Bucket Long-Handled Weed Remover may be an ideal solution. It allows seniors to extract weeds from a standing position.
Lightweight Garden Hose: Another challenge many senior gardeners encounter is difficulty dragging heavy hoses around the yard to water plants. Not only does it put the older gardener at risk for a fall, but also for back and neck strain. Lighter, expandable garden hoses make watering much easier. They are designed to expand as needed and then return to a coiled position when not in use.
Ergonomic Hand Tools: Even a mild case of arthritis in the hands can make it difficult—and sometimes even painful—to use traditional garden hand tools. Newer, more ergonomically designed garden tools can be a solution to explore. Their size and shape make them a senior-friendly alternative.
Garden Scoot: One final suggestion is to invest in some type of garden scoot. This makes it easier for an older gardener to work in borders and flower beds without having to get up and down so much. Look for a scoot with a sturdy seat and heavy-duty wheels.
Beat the Heat and Humidity
Here are a few final tips to keep older gardeners safe during the hazy days of summer:
Wear sunscreen: This generation of older adults grew up not wearing sunscreen. As a result, many still neglect using it. Encourage the seniors in your family to apply sunscreen before heading outdoors. It should be reapplied at least every four hours and even more frequently if the senior is sweating or in water.
Invest in a hat: Another sun safety tip for senior gardeners is to invest in a hat with a brim that shields the face and the back of the neck. Common locations where skin cancer develops are on the end of the nose and the top of the ears. A wide-brimmed hat can help protect both.
Heavy-duty garden gloves: Also make sure your senior loved one wears good-quality garden gloves when working in the yard. They protect the top of the hands from damaging UV rays while also helping to prevent nicks and cuts caused by thorns and branches.
Stay hydrated: Older adults often take medications that put them at increased risk for dehydration. When humidity levels rise, that further increases the risk for dehydration. Encourage the older gardeners you know to keep a water bottle with them while gardening and to drink from it often.
We hope these tips are helpful to senior gardeners and the loved ones concerned about keeping them safe!